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  The Good and Bad Effects of Marijuana
 
Wether you call it Hemp, Mary Jane, Pot, Weed; it doesn't matter. It is still Cannabis Sativa, or cannabis for short. And it is still illegal. The use of marijuana as an intoxicant in the United States became a problem of public concern in the 1930s. Regulatory laws were passed in 1937, and criminal penalties were instituted for possession and sale of the drug. "Marijuana" refers to the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant, which contains the non-narcotic chemical THC at various potencies. It is smoked or eaten to produce the feeling of being "high." The different strains of this herb produce different sensual effects, ranging from a sedative to a stimulant. The term "marijuana" is a word with indistinct origins. Some believe it is derived from the Mexican words for "Mary Jane"; others hold that the name comes from the Portuguese word marigu-ano, which means "intoxicant". The use of marijuana in the 1960's might lead one to surmise that marihuana use spread explosively. The chronicle of its 3,000 year history, however, shows that this "explosion" has been characteristic only of the contemporary scene. The plant has been grown for fiber and as a source of medicine for several thousand years, but until 500~ AD its use as a mind-altering drug was almost solely confined in India. The drug and its uses reached the Middle and Near East during the next several centuries, and then moved across North Africa, appeared in Latin America and the Caribbean, and finally entered the United States in the early decades of this century. Marijuana can even be used as "Biomass" fuel, where the pulp (hurd) of the hemp plant can be burned as is or processed into charcoal, methanol, methane, or gasoline. This process is called destructive distillation, or 'pyrolysis.' Fuels made out of plants like this are called 'biomass' fuels. This charcoal may be burned in today's coal-powered electric generators. Methanol makes a good automobile fuel, in fact it is used in professional automobile races. It may someday replace gasoline. Marijuana has many medical purposes also. The cannabis extract was available as a medicine legally in this country until 1937, and was sold as a nerve tonic-but mankind has been using cannabis medicines much longer than that. Marijuana appears in almost every known book of medicine written by ancient scholars and wise men. It is usually ranked among the top medicines, called 'panaceas', a word which means 'cure-all'. The list of diseases which cannabis can be used for includes: multiple sclerosis, cancer treatment, AIDS (and AIDS treatment), glaucoma, depression, epilepsy, migraine headaches, asthma, pruritis, sclerodoma, severe pain, and dystonia. This list does not even consider the other medicines which can be made out of marijuana-these are just some of the illnesses for which people smoke or eat whole marijuana today. There are over 60 chemicals in marijuana which may have medical uses. It is relatively easy to extract these into food or beverage, or into some sort of lotion, using butter, fat, oil, or alcohol. One chemical, cannabinol, may be useful to help people who cannot sleep. Another is taken from premature buds and is called cannabidiolic acid. It is a powerful disinfectant. Marijuana dissolved in rubbing alcohol helps people with the skin disease herpes control their sores, and a salve like this was one of the earliest medical uses for cannabis. The leaves were once used in bandages and a relaxing non-psychoactive herbal tea can be made from small cannabis stems. Also cannabis, as any other biomass fuels, are clean burning and do not increase the amount of CO2 the atmosphere, therefore making breathing easier for may people. Attempts at legalizing marijuana in the US going on for a long time. But just recently two states, California and Arizona, voted to legalize it for medical purposes only, but the US government still enforces the federal law, stating that federal law overrules state law. As said by Dr Cliff Schaffer: "In all my study and review of the information regarding this issue, one question keeps coming back to me. Let's assume - for the sake of argument - that marijuana has no medical value whatsoever, despite the fact that it has a several thousand year history of medical use and that a prescription drug is made from its primary active ingredient. Let's assume - for the sake of argument - that all these medical marijuana patients are just fooling themselves. Even in that case, what would we stand to gain as a society by punishing sick people and putting them through an already overloaded criminal justice system? Even if they are deluding themselves- what benefit is there to prosecuting sick people?" In conclusion to this, it is important to state that there have been hundreds of studies showing that smoking cannabis is potentially harmful to the brain and body and the same number of studies almost, if not totally, contradicting what these have stated.
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